The emergence of PBL (Project-Based Learning) has accelerated interest in “authentic assessment”– the evaluation of student work by rubric. This practice makes it possible for students to spend their time learning and for teachers to spend instructional time in support of student learning and progress rather than interrupting learning for testing or test prep.

Authentic assessment increases the student’s focus on what they can make with their skills and knowledge, enables them to display that capability, and to share it with teachers, family, and friends. The focus is on the student’s personal interest, capability and accomplishment rather than scores compared to some norms.

Objections to authentic assessment include:

  • worry that evaluations or grades will not be reliable or fair
  • thought that it will be more expensive
  • concern that evaluating work may be more difficult than administering objective exams

Benefits of authentic assessment include:

  • reduction of text anxiety
  • support for student personal learning goals and styles
  • authority of assessment residing with the teacher instead of an external testing organization, thus acknowledging and supporting teacher expertise and role
  • dedication of all time to learning without interruption of testing
  • development of skills needed in life and careers
  • creation of a portfolio, an archive of student work, to support student reflection on learning, job applications, and teacher insight

Supportive processes and tools enabling authentic assessment:

From PowerSchool – Assessment Analytics and Schoology division – Article on Rubric Building

4 Steps to Building Authentic Assessments

  1. Identify standards
    The first step is to determine what your students should know or be able to do. Let’s use the fourth grade literacy standard below as an example.
    Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
    Having established a standard as the starting point, select an appropriate task, criteria, and rubric for evaluation.
  2. Select authentic tasks
    What makes a task authentic? The differentiator is that an authentic task requires students to construct their own responses rather than chose between ones presented. The task should also mirror challenges face in the real world.Example: Have students write two different stories; one with first-person narration, and the other with the third-person narration. Have them present their work to the class and explain the differences.
  3. Identify criteria for the taskTask criteria get specific about the knowledge students should demonstrate via their tasks. Example criteria:- Understanding of the types of narrations
    – Examples that support the prompt
    – Overall clarity and focus of writing
  4. Create the rubricThe rubrics gives a guideline for how students will be evaluated based on their task performance.

    Here is a great example of a sample rubric.

Authentic Assessment Toolbox,

From the NEA (National Education Association)

By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer

The Authentic Assessment Toolbox is a resource to help K-12 teachers, especially new teachers, create authentic tasks, rubrics, and standards for measuring and improving student learning.

What is Authentic Assessment? defines and gives examples of authentic assessment, compares it to traditional assessment, and suggests that a combination will most likely meet teacher and student needs.

Why Use Authentic Assessment? explains why authentic assessment is appropriate in certain cases:

  • it provides direct measures;
  • captures constructive nature of learning;
  • integrates teaching, learning and assessment; and,
  • provides multiple paths to demonstration.

In How Do You Create Authentic Assessments? the development process is presented in four steps, which comprise the heart of the website:

1. Identifying Standards

The section on Standards distinguishes standards from other student performance statements by considering breadth of coverage and feasibility of measurement and observation.

2. Selecting Authentic Tasks

The section on Authentic Tasks describes characteristics of authentic tasks and distinguishes them from traditional tasks.

3. Identifying the Criteria for the Task

An extensive section on types of authentic tasks lists and provides PDFs of examples.

4. Creating the Rubric

The section on Rubrics covers descriptors, levels of performance, and analytic versus holistic rubrics.

A section on Portfolios explains why they are useful, how to create a portfolio assignment, and how teachers who haven’t used portfolios before can get some experience by using them on a smaller scale.

A section of Examples provides specimen documents for standards, tasks and rubrics, and portfolios for K-12 and higher.

Glossary of Authentic Assessment Terms is included.